Lincoln is best known in his silent movie role as the first Tarzan in 1918's Tarzan of the Apes as an adult (Gordon Griffith played him as a child in the same movie). He portrayed the character twice more—in The Romance of Tarzan (also 1918) and in the 1921 serial The Adventures of Tarzan.
Following the end of the silent movie era, Elmo left Hollywood and tried his hand at mining. In the late 1930s, he returned to the film industry, most often employed as an extra. He appeared, uncredited, in two Tarzan films in the 1940s—as a circus roustabout in Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942), and as a Fisherman repairing his net in Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949).
Lincoln died of a heart attack on June 27, 1952 at age 63. He is interred in a niche at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
In 2001, his daughter Marci'a Lincoln Rudolph told his story in her book, My Father, Elmo Lincoln: The Original Tarzan (ISBN 1-58690-000-5).